Since its first episode in 1969, Sesame Street has been a success with both parents and children. It is today almost universally praised as a pioneer in edutainment. But it has also been one of the vehicles for a radical transformation of American culture, which ultimately has ended in woke totalitarianism.
Throughout history, monsters have been included in myths, stories, and fairytales. In some cases, the monsters play the hero, such as the dog-headed Saint Cristopher. Still, the monster usually plays the role of a dangerous villain. In Little Red Riding Hood, the villain is a wolf, while in Hansel and Gretel, a witch plays the role of the evil monster. Children were told fairytales that today would be considered horrific.
Sesame Street popularized a reversal of the role of monsters. They were portrayed as cute, cuddly, friendly, and harmless. There were likely only good intentions behind this choice. The show deliberately had a minority-white cast and focused on tolerance, empathy, and openness.
The monsters of Sesame Street are a thinly veiled metaphor for the Alien Other: the Samaritan, the Jew, the black, the immigrant, the gay, the transgender, etc. The show taught an entire generation of kids to be more tolerant and inclusive.
That’s great, but there is a reason parents have told horror stories to children throughout the eons. There is a reason why fairytales warn about inviting a vampire into your home: You might get far more than you wanted.
Following in the footsteps of Sesame Street, popular culture humanized and defanged monsters. Millions of children today are brought up with the cuddly visions of monsters as just a form of diversity, such as in the animated movie Monsters Inc.
The same trend is seen in how animals are presented. In Little Red Riding Hood, the wolf took on the role of the monster, planning to eat the little human girl. Early animation movies continued the theme of highlighting the predator-prey relation. The classic 1948 Looney Toons animation I Taw a Putty Tat starts with the cat, Sylvester, having just finished eating a canary bird. Later, he is outsmarted by the new bird in town, Tweety, who has him killed by a dog.
Today, by contrast, animals are presented as all friends. In Zootopia, for example, rabbits and wolves live peacefully together.
However, can nature be so easily conditioned out of humans? Despite all attempts to prevent it, monsters keep working their way back into sanitized stories. In the West, the arc of storytelling has followed another trope from mythology: inversion. If people normalize the monstrous, the normal tends to become the new monster.
Fortunately, this story might have a happy ending. In mythology, an inversion is often followed by a double inversion where everything eventually turns back to normal. Such a pattern is epitomized by the aphorism “good times create bad people; bad people create bad times; bad times create good people; good people create good times.”
Paradoxically, the tyrannical behavior of those nursed on nothing but feel-good stories generates precisely the kind of horror that teaches people to be resilient and value order, stability, and normalcy. That may be the fate this time around as well – at least until the cycle repeats once again.
Read more from Caroline Adana.